WOW. I have only been here a week now and I already have had so many new experiences. There is so much I have already done and I can’t wait to be here for another four months!
I arrived in Barcelona on January 5th with my father, earlier than my roommates, and toured around The Rambla (a known street for tourists), and tried a couple cool restaurants and watched some funny street performers. My first impression of Barcelona is that it has the best of all worlds. It has the beach, the mountains, the old city feel, but with a new and lively culture. All the sites and people make you feel so welcome and are always willing to help. The first food/drink I tried was of course Sangria and Tapas. These are two of some well-known things in Barcelona.
The next night I moved into my apartment and met my other roommates. I had seen a picture of my apartment from the outside from google maps, but I didn’t really know what to expect on the inside. When I walked in, I was so surprised at how modern and cute it was! The apartment had a fairly old façade, but the entire inside had been redone. The apartment reminds me of an Ikea showroom. Everything is Ikea! It is small, but we had all the essentials to live very comfortably. Around our apartment we have a supermarket, a basar, a couple boutiques, and a few bars. We have everything we really need within steps of the apartment. My favorite part of the apartment is definitely the balcony off of my bedroom that has a view of the street we live on. I have spent ample time on it so far; it is so fun to wake up and eat breakfast with the view of the city.
In the first few days here, me and my other group members took part in many different activities. We had an orientation at the SAI office where we met the other half of our group and went over some need-to-know topics about Barcelona, the people and the culture. After that we went to another orientation at our BEAUTIFUL school with talks from our professors. The most interesting part of that day was the lunch that followed our orientation. We went to a local Catalan restaurant and ordered food from the Menu Del Día (menu of the day). With this, you get an appetizer, a main course, a drink and a dessert all for around 10 euros. I ordered eggplant with bolognese sauce for my appetizer which was really good and RABBIT for my main course…. yes, I said rabbit. It surprisingly tasted very similar to turkey, and it helped that it was covered in a gravy sauce. My dessert was an almond cake that was drizzled in wine and it was also delicious.
The following day we went on a Gaudí architecture walking tour. We visited Casa Batllò, La Pedrera, Sagrada de Familia and Parc Güell. All of these works were done by Antoni Gaudi- a famous architect from Barcelona. My favorite site was Parc Güell. The view is something in itself, but then you see the gorgeous mosaic benches and unusual designed buildings and stone walls. My friend Ally and I also ventured up to Las tres cruces, which is three crosses at the top of Parc Güell that overlooks the entire city.
As an apartment, we have done a substantial amount of exploring on our own as well. We have walked around to Barcelonetta Beach, La Placa De Espana, the Gothic Quarter, and many streets around the surrounding area. We have become masters of the metro system (subways) as it seems to be the preferred method of transportation in Barcelona. We have learned that you must bring your own bags to the markets because otherwise you have to buy them and also talking loudly on the metros will result in many disgusted stares. Fashion-wise, it seems as if everyone and their mother wears all black everything, everyday. It’s funny to me that all these Spaniards are in their heavy scarves and peacoats in 60 degree weather while I’m sitting here tanning at the beach in a long sleeved shirt. It is also very custom to wait until 8 or 9pm before eating dinner, which is something that I have struggled to adjust to.
I am learning new things everyday and this was just a small snipit of some of the experiences I have had so far. If I wrote about everything, we would be reading a novel. :)
Bailey is a current student at St. Cloud State University studying at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain during the Spring 2015 term.